Is there still time to stop Adani?

How to make change and beat activist burnout.

Though climate change is now common knowledge, inaction is still widespread. Weeks of chilly weather are enough to arrest the sense of urgency surrounding global warming. Yet the rate of CO2 increase is now reaching critical points. We expel 6.3 billion tonnes per year, increasing by 0.3 per cent annually. If this trend persists, we will exceed the carbon budget’s 2 degree limit the threshold the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change put in place to keep the earth at its currently feverous, but not yet catastrophic, level of warmth.

For most of us, these statistics are meaningless jibber-jabber. If world temperatures rise, big deal! But the consequences will be dire: icecaps will melt and sea levels will rise, slowly drowning smaller islands; at the same time, hurricanes and droughts will intensify. Or take a local example: already, temperature increases have been responsible for the bleaching of 60 percent of our Great Barrier Reef. The ocean absorbs a lot of the world’s carbon so when more CO2 is produced, sea temperatures rise, bleaching the coral. These processes are the Earth’s natural recalibration to climate stress;  but it’s we humans who have placed that stress on our environment.

There no better example of this than mega mining projects like Adani’s Carmichael Coal Mine. Indian mining magnate Gautam Adani purchased a Queensland deposit of untapped thermal coal in the Galilee Basin. He intends to build the Carmichael mine, which would double Australian carbon exports by producing 60 million tonnes of coal per year. This will clear the way for nine more mega-mines, quickly blowing the temperature parameters needed to maintain climate stability. Bye-bye ice caps, bye-bye islands, bye-bye Reef.

Usually, Queensland’s high unemployment rates and the need  for a ‘booming industry’ to resuscitate Townsville are used to justify the mine. These are  legitimate needs, which Adani aims to address, according to Queensland minister Annastacia Palaszczuk, by creating “10,000 jobs”.

Do not fall into the category of social justice nihilism.

This promise is problematic. Former Reserve Bank economist Jerome Fahrer stated, under oath, that Adani will only create 1,464 “direct and indirect” jobs, partly due to the modernisation of mining which favours technology to people. The Great Barrier Reef provides 70,000 jobs. Adani, or any project that harms the Reef, will ironically raise unemployment.

Though state governments market Adani as locally beneficial, the Queensland farming industry will also suffer. Parliament has allowed the mine 60 years of free access to the Great Artesian Basin’s groundwater, which will likely consume 270 billion litres, permanently reducing the water table by 20cm. For local farmers trapped in drought, this is a death knell.

Beyond the environmental, Adani Enterprises also has a string of allegations against its name: there are accusations of  bribery, shell company dealings, tax haven abuse, fraud and  money laundering. The company has also had troubles with the Indian environmental regulator, the National Green Tribunal. Guatam’s brother, Vinod Adani, is currently under investigation for allegations of “siphoning off foreign exchange”. Yet the Commonwealth Investment Board is now considering a one billion dollar loan of federal funds to this company of corruption.

What can you do? It’s hard to know how you could affect the billion-dollar efforts of governments and multinational corporations.

Firstly, support the anti-Adani presence on campus. We are all guilty of avoiding their clipboards, but they put grassroots pressure on the government. The more people fight, the more people notice; and this, in turn, pressures politicians into addressing our concerns. There is a current bi-partisan agreement pushing forward the project. Anna Krien, author of The Long Goodbye: Coal, Coral and the Australian Deadlock, names political donations and private investments as the controlling factor in this parliamentary settlement, so protesting is needed to cut through their bullshit. Do not fall into the category of social justice nihilism. Grassroots campaigning led to the listing of the Reef as a World Heritage site! Interact in #StopAdani Facebook conversations. Pressure local representatives. Support USy demonstrations. Basically: make a noise.